For some time, designers, architects and builders all over the world have tinkered with the idea of turning excess standard shipping containers into living quarters. Some of the incarnations of the lowly metal box are downright chic, including artist-architect Adam Kalkin's Quik House for which he apparently has more orders than he can handle.
But these metal containers have also drawn the attention of some leading brands that have started to use the eye-popping ideas to full advantage. Holiday shoppers milling about the Time Warner Center in New York will have a fabulous chance to experience one of these soon. Between November 28 and December 29, 2007, they can rest, relax and sip a perfect cup of illy espresso in one of Kalkin's creations, the temporary Push Button House cafe that the Trieste, Italy-based illycaffe will install there.
The European premier of this concept by Alan Kalkin and illy took place at the 52nd Venice Biennale where illy continues to partner with the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia by providing the visitors each year a space to relax and enjoy their complimentary espresso. This was illy's fourth year of establishing the refreshment area at the Biennale but the Push Button House version created an unprecedented buzz.
With the push of a button, the house opens in 90 seconds like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, living room and library. All materials used in the Biennale house were recyclable or recycled. As Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of illycaffe, has been quoted as saying, illy was initially interested in Kalkin's idea as an examination of 'home as one continuous mouldable surface, a relief against which human activity would pop out.';
Kalkin's concepts have proven to be adaptable to many circumstances. His company has developed container-unit projects for everything from disaster-relief housing to luxury dwellings (pictured below), and for promotional purposes such as the illy cafe. By Tuija Seipell.
They used to say "a light bulb goes on in your mind" when knowledge happens. The Danish architects at 3XN already realise the sun is the true source of knowledge - providing fuel for each global system. Imagine the power more sunlight can provide young minds hard at work in their schools.
Orestad College (upper school) opened this year just south of central Copenhagen in the development area of Orestad. The superstructure of the building is formed by four boomerang-shaped platforms that rotate over four floors and remain open to one another allowing for a seamless interconnection of space throughout the school. This open, high central hall, known as the X-zone is linked by a stairway that helps promote interdisciplinary communication and cooperation among the various teaching and study spaces.
Transparent glass louvres automatically rotate on the exterior of the building allowing light in and providing an array of colours to the interior environments. By manipulating the sunlight the entire student body becomes aware of the passing of time and the changing of the seasons as the school year progresses.
Sustainability for education can certainly begin with the design of the school itself, and 3XN has successfully integrated the traditional Scandinavian aspects of functionality with clarity and beauty in form. - Andrew J Wiener
The stark XXS Shop for Mobile Gadgets opened earlier this year in Hamburg’s Innenstadt, at Spitalen Hof 8. It is a minimalist showroom by Hamburg-based Spine Architects for Etronixx-Trading GmbH. The store is void of practically everything else but white surfaces and the merchandise itself. Mobile gizmos appear almost suspended in air, as they rest in small slots within the white expanse of built-in cabinetry that encircles the entire space. It is an excellent example of forcing the customer - in a pleasant way - to focus on the products, not on the props.
Spine is a German-English partnership that started between Boris Bähre, J'orn Hadzik, Jan Löhrs and Neil Winstanley in 2001 when they won one of the prizes awarded in the international design competition for Rabin Square in Tel-Aviv, Israel. They are known for their work in several areas, from housing to public places to TV shows, private homes and shops. In September, Spine Architects opened an office in Menlo Park, San Francisco. By Tuija Seipell
Walking past a series of drab estate agent windows doesn't really make you want to part with your hard earned cash. Even if you are looking to move out.
That's why estate agents Hotblack Desiato - depicted as a keyboard player in the cult sci-fi novel, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - decided to spruce up their Islington offices in London.
These little clusters of property were inspired by the revival of cubism within architecture. The 3-D squares created by designer Paul Crofts are set at varying depths to create an almost pixel like installation that spills over onto the adjacent wall inside. Which makes poking your nose round other people's houses that little bit sweeter. By Matt Hussey
The Nestlé Chocolate factory in Mexico City's Paseo Tollocan near Toluca has never been a site anyone went to see for its beauty. It is what is inside that has always interested chocolate-lovers.
That changed earlier this year when Michel Rojkind, the 38-year-old principal of Rojkind Arquitectos, decided that he was not satisfied with the original idea of just revamping the factory's viewing gallery.
He put together a team that came up with an entire museum, with a shop, a theatre, and direct access to the factory as well. The 300-meter-wide scarlet building cannot go unnoticed by anyone driving the entrance freeway to Toluca.
This is by far not the first chocolate museum in Mexico, the ancient home of chocolate. Neither is it the first sweet museum for the Switzerland-headquartered consumer-product behemoth Nestlé.
However, it is probably the first chocolate museum ever to be called both a piece of origami and a shipping container. The corrugated metal look gives it an air of impermanence and industrial clunk while the bright color and crazy shape evoke play and fun. What any of this has to do with chocolate, we are not exactly sure, but we almost managed to fold a KitKat wrapper to a similar shape. By Tuija Seipell
Here at TCH, we love riding bikes through the city. There's something immensely pleasing about sailing past scores of traffic with little more than a push of a pedal. And at the same time, you're burning the calories, and doing your bit to stay green. But there's one thing we hate about this simple mode of transport. People like nothing more than stealing them, damaging them, or driving buses into them. While your safe at work crunching the numbers, who's looking after your ride home?
Cue the bike dispensing machine. Brought to you courtesy of bikedispenser.com, a small firm from Amsterdam, the idea is to help facilitate bike rentals in urban areas. Cyclists pay a small fee to hire a bike, and then they can take it where they please. Once they've finished, they can return it either to that machine, or another one across town. And because they've been fitted with RFID tags, they won't all have been nicked before you can get one.
Now, if only they can do something about those van driver - By Matt Hussey
Forget your traditional definition of an amusement park, Wannado City leaves behind the cotton candy, the solicitors of large stuffed animals, the mindless entertainment and trash. Instead the “city”� has redefined child entertainment with aspirational activities, all of which are framed around the question: “What do you wanna do when you grow up?”�
Wannado City was crafted from the vision of Mexican-born Luis Javier Laresgoiti, who had a eureka moment while watching his daughter “play executive” on his business phone. Laresgoiti, with the backing of several major corporations has crafted a dream world where children are encouraged to take on an adult profession and see where it takes them. The park is located in Sawgrass Mills Mall in Southern Florida.
Each venue has its own concentration, such as the Motorola-sponsored M-Lab that focuses on innovation and invention. The M-Lab turns each visitor is given a white lab coat and transformed into an “M-Ventor.”� The children are encouraged to work together on a technology-based game to solve a difficult problem. Once they’ve solved the situation at hand, they’re greeted with a congratulatory “Mission Accomplished”� banner.
M-Lab however, goes far above and beyond the standard protocol for children’s playthings. The space was designed in collaboration with Motorola and Gensler, a self-proclaimed “global design, planning and strategic consulting firm.” The M-Lab lures passer-bys with its façade — clad in stark aluminum and panelite — which contrasts with the surrounding “quaint village” motif. Inside there are seven chambers, each meticulously designed depending on the room’s task at hand. The end result is a realistic series of rooms that embrace each child’s fantasy of becoming the next influential innovator. By L. Harper